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Will, Text By
THE BOOK-PLATES OF
FREDERICK GARRISON HALL
ECORATIVE design in
^ America has had in none of
its branches so rapid a devel-
opment as in that of the book-
plate. Twenty-five years ago
there were, in this country, it.vi book-plates that
were anything more than coats-of-arms or labels.
To-day there is a large and increasing production
in this branch of design. The book-plate no
longer necessarily consists of a coat-of-arms only;
more usually it is a small, decorative composition
that in some way indicates the owner's individ-
uality, or else is, in a general way, symbolic of
books and reading.
Mr. Hall's plates have a place of their own
among theforemost produftionsof the day. Both
in conception and in execution they are notable. .
It is pleasant to see that Mr. Hall, though
largely self taught, has fortunately little or nothing
to unlearn. Though we do see in his work a
distindt tinge of individuality, it is evident that
his efforts have been directed chiefly toward per-
fecting his means of expression. As Stevenson,
in another form of art, using language as a medium,
for years studied and imitated what he considered
best in the styles of the great writers, so Mr. Hall
has confined his attention to those masters whose
method lends itself most rapidly to drawings of a
purely decorative character. His study of the old
designers has been untiring; in the light of their
work he has striven for a satisfactory technique.
In his more recent plates we can see the begin-
nings of a style distinctively his own, one that is
all the more interesting when we know on what
foundation it is built.
His subjects are largely drawn from the past;
his method is inspired by the work of such men as
Durer, Van Staar, and Rembrandt, masters of pure
line. Yet in Mr. Hall's best work one may trace
results of the study, not only of the elder engravers
and wood-cutters, but also of modern draughtsmen.
Turn for instance to the Straus plate. The eflfect
is that of a steel engraving; yet in the rendering
of the face may be seen the influence of Mr.
Maxfield Parrish. The Roelvink plate shows this
combination still more plainly. The handling of
the figure of the young prince is distinctively
modern, but the treatment of the walls, especially
that of the corner where a lightening of the tones
is effected by diamond cross hatching with broken
lines, takes us back to the sixteenth century.
The Hooper plate, on the other hand, though
it lacks some of the mechanical perfections of the
two mentioned above, will doubtless seem to many
one of the most charming in the collection. Pure
line work is seldom better applied to pictorial
The plate was etched by Mr. W. H. W. Bick-
well ; it was one of Mr. Hall's earlier productions,
dating from about the same time as the Fuller
plate, engraved by Mr. Spenceley. The composi-
tion of the latter is especially noteworthy. The
White plate is perhaps the best example of the
command of a clean steady pen line. The sky is
admirably handled ; the shading of the sails is care-
ful and fitting. The natural treatment of the
water, and the general freedom from exaggeration,
make the plate a good example of what some one
has called "sane decoration."
In no way dependent on elaboration for their
effect, the two small plates (of Walton Atwater
Green and Clement Scott) are perfect in their way.
The reproduction of the latter is hardly smaller
than the original. There is little in it; a Venetian
lamp and a scroll ; but the sense of composition
and harmony is excellent. Mr. Hall's plate is
interesting. The hand is his own and the H in
its complete form the signature that he has lately
adopted. The Allen plate, engraved by Mr.
Spenceley, shows a happier use qf solid blacks
than, for instance, the Straus plate. The handling
of the small shields and the decorations at the
bottom is typical in delicacy and completeness.
In conclusion, one may call attention to the
lettering of these book-plates. Few laymen
realize that lettering is something more than a
mechanical process. Those who have tried it,
know that lettering is a difficult art in itself.
Mr. Hall has developed a thoroughly good style.
The inscriptions of the White, and the Chatman
plates may be taken as examples of his best work
in this line.
What Mr. Hall may ultimately achieve is, of
course, a matter of conjecture. But one may
safely say that if the normal course of development
holds true in his case, his future work is destined
to occupy no secondary place in the field of Am-
erican decorative design.
• GREEN •
Anna Lee Ames
Herbert nathAn stravs
EX LIB RIS
JOSEPH DE, FOREST
Alfred Talbot Baker
SnntonI UntvwMy UbrariM
3 6105 120 014 019
CECIL H. GREEN LIBRARY
STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRAR
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA 94305^
All book:; are subject to r